Although originally from Newport, Rhode Island, Polly and her husband Michael Stout spent 34 years in Columbia, South Carolina before moving to Washington, DC in 2014. Polly has an MA in Art History from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC.
Polly has been prolifically writing Haiku (俳句): a type of short form poetry originally from Japan. Traditional Japanese haiku consist of three lines, with a syllable count of 5-7-5.
These were inspired by the sudden retirement of Polly’s physician husband and her own tour guide retirement, due to the pandemic. They live in a small condo in downtown DC.
1 Did I ever say that I love your fierce blue eyes? You’ve bedazzled me. 2 I grew up in storms, my frayed strands relaced by your equanimity. 3 Once, in Mexico, I danced with another man. Your pain impaled me. 4 The structure of days beats to the rhythm of your exits and entries. 5 Fifty years I’ve spent, smoothing the sheets of our bed. I’m getting nowhere. 6 My sister tells me I have a jealous husband. Indubitably. 7 Bravadoed by love, I make my demand that you smoke your joint outside. 8 I’m a human mole— dark holes my fav’rite spaces—whilst you crave the sun. 9 I have been a wife for most of my life, but have I been a good one? 10 Your optimism is endlessly annoying because it’s endless. 11 Following the crumbs, I know where you sat last night, sorting out our life. 12 Regulatory matters in the house are mine. You? Such a dreamer. 13 You’re a persistent interruptor, earnestness trumping etiquette. 14 Such a stinky man, with all hell’s smells broken loose after your bike ride. 15 I know you love me. You do all the things I hate, like drying dishes. 16 Can I ever be the things you want me to be? I’m a frozen girl. 17 I sauté my grief standing by the frying pan, recalling mistakes. 18 It’s hard to believe that once I never knew you. So many lost days. 19 I sit in my chair and you sit in yours. Shall we dare to eat a peach? 20 Every night in bed, you scratch me with your toenail. I kick you away. 21 I edit your words, as I wonder whence they come, tumbling all around. 22 If I tailed your trail in our condo for a day, I’d be a pretzel. 23 I pick a poem from a tree and tart it up, tangy new for you. 24 Men are just like eggs. Bulwarked tightly in their shells but subject to breach. 25 Once you were a monk. But I guess they threw you out because you’re a nut. 26 If you let me be just now, I’ll be tenderer upon your return. 27 Too many poems beginning with “if.” It’s time to talk about “when.” 28 If proximity’s a key to love, might I ask where the hell you’ve been? 29 How many poems must I write, to circumscribe our duplexity? 30 Cheerios pickup now required, due to AM crunching underfoot. 31 Always cajoling me. You’re such a rascally man. I know all your tricks. 32 I was just fourteen when I first saw your smooth face in someone’s yearbook. 33 I didn’t know you when we married. It was all so accidental. 34 When we were first wed, I was a better liar than Pinocchio. 35 With experience, I’ve come to know, haiku are better read than said. 36 Will you tickle me? We need to cure my “no-smile” disability. 37 I see you found the choc’late chips again last night. No cookies today. 38 How can a writer as upbeat as you, brush off exclamation points? 39 What does it say that your best pals are humankind, my best friends are trees? 40 Each day, as a rule, we have space for two. Today you’re looming over. 41 Let’s grow trees inside. Crowns of boughs and twigs will arc, hiding the ductwork. 42 Who would you become if I relinquished my claim? Love’s a gnarly cage. 43 We walk, concealing the pain in our hips and knees, refuting frailty. 44 I cut a foot off the hem of my wedding dress, showing you my thighs. 45 Retrospectively, I was a shrew of a wife. Please state why you stayed. 46 I’ll go kneel under the Forgiving Tree and hope our children show up. 47 Pyromaniac Needed: What once sparked joy, now resists disposal. 48 My parents excelled at flaw-finding, as did I. You are gently blind. 49 I married you for your kindness, a trait that first I found confusing. 50 You’d like me to bike, but I don’t care to flash past fast and miss the world. 51 Somewhere there was love I think, in my parents’ house. Boxed and closeted. 52 Do we blandify and decomplex each other with propinquity? 53 Poems dropping from the sky. Ignore or proceed? Therapy or pen? 54 I’ve got some instinct plus flawed introspection. Not sure you wanted those. 55 Planning our future has become a conundrum as the years crater. 56 You’re complex: loving the paper, hating the news, sometimes the reverse. 57 At night, asleep, you softly whisper things. Last night you said “football game.” 58 Is it romantic or pathetic? We’re two, at our table for four. 59 I didn’t want to bring up Cheerios again. But you’ve forced me to. 60 I shovel black things into a hole. You make them bright thoughts on a page. 61 Yup. You’re preening some. But I’ll accord you’ve cause for still a little more. 62 I don’t enjoy fun. It’s too unruly for me. Where are the edges? 63 I’m amazed at the time it takes you to complete announced departures. 64 Your idleness is powerful, by luck quashed by an odd diligence. 65 I caught you reading on the couch in scant attire, cheerfully lazy. 66 Last night I dreamt you told me you had died. But here you are, hugging me. 67 In the past, we were more competitive. (I might have been the stoker.) 68 If we become all output, where to get input for our new output? 69 Our first house was a plaything, covered in emblems thought up by hippies. 70 What is it you want me to see, in that closet that you never close? 71 If I don’t curb my fondness for thrift, we’ll shortly be eating eggshells. 72 As a child, I feared the Commies in the closet. Now I fear the stuff. 73 I don’t spy on you for haiku reasons only. I also like you. 74 Thanks for cooking and for savoring the doing. It’s my Golgotha. 75 If I go away, you might notice dust and dirt. But probably not. 76 I never supposed your losing hearing would still the voices of birds. 77 If they cut my brain, theoretically, they’ll find a piece of you. 78 I like when you cut my hair, your touch gently firm, your breath on my neck. 79 Sooner or later you’ll slap duct tape on me when I yap about trees. 80 I can’t describe you in seventeen syllables, ergo these poems. 81 I’m a terrible listener. You listen well but can’t hear a thing. 82 A homeless man roots in our trash in the alley. We sleep ten floors up. 83 Rigidly, I eat a pancake every day, but you don’t laugh at me. 84 You are still thoughtful. After all this time and all my provocations. 85 When the trees talk, they tell you your wife is crazy. You’re hearing voices. 86 The traces of you are ubiquitous here. They’re mostly fingerprints. 87 Once you begged, Don’t leave, you’ll love me again next week. You were right, of course. 88 You’re like an echo of your father, supplied with ready forgiveness. 89 We see lovers on their balconies in an arc that sweeps around us. 90 Ev’ry night you burn your toast, while standing against the counter musing. 91 Our slumber is a deep space, for collation of sundry bits of self. 92 History likes to count lust over love. Which one’s more significant? 93 When I was prepared to abandon us, you were strict about “I do.” 94 Strange Covid factoid: we are busy, bored and blithe concomitantly. 95 Covid paradox: our marriage expanded when squeezed by circumstance. 96 What will manifest in June when we exit our double-wide cocoon? * *now June 2021 97 I’m sorry I made you cookies. I’ve abetted your hopeless diet. 98 You can come out of hiding now. I know you ate the last of the cake. 99 My foot crunched on a cracker today. At times you leave some large debris. 100 Can I really write two hundred poems about us? What will that do? 101 I wake up at three, an irremediable eccentricity. 102 The view from our place is better than God’s but you may not tell her that. 103 I look out alone at three AM, when the moon is full of itself. 104 I asked too much from you when I begged you to move, but you indulged me. 105 I was most struck with love when you buzzed your hair down to a quarter inch. 106 The nuns said parents love their children. At home, love was ambivalence. 107 You’ve a gift I wish I had: when to say words and when to say nothing. 108 I slide in my dream down a slope of chopped words, a hill shaved smooth by you. 109 You cook without fear of stupid ingredients filling our cupboards. 110 I’ll play with you in poetry, but not our kids. Their lives are sacred. 111 When you say “my wife,” I feel safe in the caress of your possession. 112 The paper flapping, you scuffle with the wind out on the balcony. 113 I close my curtain and you slide your door. A thoughtful estrangement. 114 If, like my mother, I mislay my sanity, this is my goodbye. 115 Such a noble dome is yours. Phrenological perfection hatted. 116 I dye my hair to please you, and in so doing, we are both content. 117 We ration our space, compartmentalization supporting our bliss. 118 Ref’rencing you with the word “ineffable” means I’ll have to shut up. 119 If you don’t get that last haiku, you should look up ineffable too. 120 We’ll be left a null set by the morbidity of covidity. 121 Pandemically, are we simply matter or do we two matter? 122 Extra-marital friendship has vanished, whilst the virus stalks the land. 123 Nonsensical is a word I haven’t used, but somewhere it pertains. 124 Our garden’s made of asphalt, brick and sky. We reap its views of humans. 125 If we didn’t have the moon, I might hate the sun. All blast and no shine. 126 We’re still embarrassed sometimes, when we surprise one another unclothed. 127 Were we marooned on an island, I suspect you’d relish the swimming. 128 At last a haiku from you. (Should I see this as a usurpation?)* *On the street below my wife in purple waves up to me on my perch. 129 You will never be accused of exactingness, but I surely will. 130 I haiku-zap you, hoping to compel you to notice me anew. 131 Sometimes love’s remote. I stalk past you and you by me. By and by, we’ll meet. 132 I’m searching for my worth in these haiku, worried I won’t find it here. 133 War-married, we met once in Hawaii and saw that we were strangers. 134 Could it be that love’s the mutual acceptance of imperfection? 135 In summer you swim, unconcerned by roiling waves, inchmeal toward The Rock. 136 On the same mission once, I nearly drowned. You swam beside and calmed me. 137 With your powerful arms, you stroke slowly, like an old man in the sea. 138 We self-delude we’re young, making a pleasantry out of verity. 139 I’ve just understood there’s no narrative here. I’m writing in circles. 140 My mother appears in my dreams sometimes, always ghostly and silent. 141 Socially, you’re a combatant. Few have escaped your hello assaults. 142 There’s not a single doubt that Adam and Eve got bored with each other. 143 We joke about things profane and sacred, seeing no contrast between. 144 You’ve never spent much time in comforting, pushing me to earn my self. 145 Writing about love reshapes the puzzle parts for reanalysis. 146 Words fly out of my brain, bouncing like flubber. They’re very hard to catch. 147 I suspect, with age, they’re bursting through the weak spots of suppressed recall. 148 The pink in your cheeks replicated itself in one of our children. 149 In bed at night I breathe your breath. Fortunately, it’s aromatic. 150 We have so little time now. I can’t define the worth of your nearness. 151 To sleep on a flight, you took a pill. I hated I couldn’t wake you. 152 Is love like physics? I fear that emotions at rest might stay that way. 153 Our half year in New Zealand stole our eyes. We got them back resculpted. 154 We were gobsmacked to see an antipodal sky rehearse its own stars. 155 I’m caught in a vault of blooming lindens, their scent invading my skin. 156 The first time we met, your deference spoke to all the right parts of me. 157 We cohabit well when we’re busy. We haven’t tried unbusy yet. 158 Today I became argumentative, but you winningly parried. 159 Brevity should be the soul of poetry to make it bearable. 160 The Moon’s not always perfect, but I still plan to Capitalize it. 161 Below, protesters and marchers in the street shout for things denied them. 162 Outside, looters creep up to the drugstore and smash our trust in humans. 163 I’m drowning in a tsunami of leftover vocabulary. 164 You scrawl your heart out across long pages. I cramp my angst on half sheets. 165 Let’s mark the day. I think we’ve reached the zenith on our boredom meter. 166 Was it because I was carrying books that you picked me up that day? 167 You were too normal yourself to recognize that, really, I wasn’t. 168 You neglected to ask me to marry you. I said yes anyway. 169 Love can’t remain as astonishing as before. It becomes sweet balm. 170 Memories should be routinely re-inspected for strange mutations. 171 Why don’t we make a garden inside? We need the guidance of flowers. 172 If I bury the worst of me in a yard, a dog might dig it up. 173 If I bury the best, I might regret that I never employed it. 174 You’re rarely incensed. On occasions of such, you’re a fiery thing. 175 We used to call your father King. Ne’er was a king so truly humble. 176 There’s so much more to tell you, and so little I remember to say. 177 There’s a universe, but love as a topic could overflow the place. 178 My parents were strange, amazeballs contributors to the baby boom. 179 My mother was a grand multipara, but we just called her Mummy. 180 My semblance isn’t my own. Just one was carved, and shared among sisters. 181 We danced on the head of a pin, but there wasn’t room for all of us. 182 We misconstrue if we think consanguinity means obligation. 183 My father, three times, treated me with a kindness that bewildered me. 184 The devil is in the discernment of what love’s precisely made of. 185 I thought what parents did was always love. Somewhere I got confounded. 186 On the bridge back to Providence, I turned and said, Love, I get it now. 187 Much of me’s shut off, like a ship hull’s compartments, sealed against a flood. 188 A psych once asked me, “Shall we open that door?” What a silly question. 189 It makes me sad when I look at photos and see that I was happy. 190 I need to mention maudlin. I’m afraid that word’s my main descriptor. 191 My eyelids shivered when you kissed them this morning. I can still feel them. 192 We don’t discuss our deaths. We like harder themes like US politics. 193 We’ve senesced, our skin’s thinned. The world presses on us more insistently. 194 There’ll come a day just one of us is left, adrift, wanting humdrum back. 195 Our sun’s a two-faced thing, luring sweet leaves in spring, scorching them later. 196 The bag on my head impairing my vision was labeled “Religion.” 197 I’m sorry for the toenail joke. Touches are good, the sharpest recalled. 198 I’ve seen a few jars, canopic ones. I ponder how you’ll squish me in. 199 I’ve been abandoned by eloquence, so fleeting’s the gifting of words. 200 My knowledge of you, I know, is not complete. How could it ever be?